1 September 2006

An introduction to Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli was set up in about 1984 by the famous anime (animated movie) director and producer Hayao Miyazaki.

All the films made by Ghibli are Japanese anime – moves made in animation. Some of you may be familiar with InuYasho, Pokemon, Dragon Z Ball, Cowboy Bebop and the Moomins.

Most of these television series and films are “dubbed” (recorded verbally) in Japanese, so when broadcasting companies such as Disney buy these films, they are re-dubbed with English actors so people in the UK and USA can understand them. This makes a great benefit towards anime that is targeted as children, as reading subtitles instead would be somewhat complicated.

However, not all anime is aimed at children. In Japan, one of the main types of magazines is actually manga, which are Japanese animated cartoons. There are literally thousands of different genres of manga which reach out to all ages – young and old.

Usually when a manga artist or anime director starts to work on ideas for a film, they begin by exploring their ideas using manga to set different scenes in the world and of Japanese history, symbolism, culture or religion. Then the manga is constructed into movie material and voice actors chosen.

Some of Ghibli’s films include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (my favourite) and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Although some of these films may seem quite childish, especially My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, all of them have much deeper meaning, symbolism and moral. Miyazaki is well known for creating similar character models and themes (e.g. humans vs. nature) in all his anime movies, and they differentiate form other films by showing how the protagonists (main characters) change and develop.

The top sites for info on these films include IMDb, Wikipedia, Nausicaa.Net, and of course, Google Search.

Oh, and, one more thing – these films can get very touchy, moving and compelling, so get the tissue boxes ready! (Especially for Grave of the Fireflies)

I am personally very moves by all these films and the others I have seen (including Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns), and regard them in as much value as The Matrix.

The animation is beautiful, the characters are life-like and believable, the scenery is outstanding, and the stories and places visited are spectacular. Every one of them will be a memorable treat for your heart and mind!